Catching up with Prado and looking at the lineup’s two (black) hole
As Martin Prado remained in a state of shock in the hours after learning he was the centerpiece of the package the Braves used to land Justin Upton and Chris Johnson from the D-backs, his spirit was brightened with a phone call he received from Chipper Jones.
“He called me and said I’ve got a lot of respect for you,” Prado said. “That means a lot to me.”
A few weeks later Jones sent Prado a text to inform him his former teammate that the D-backs would be in Atlanta when the Braves retire Jones’ No. 10 jersey on June 28.
“I was like that’s awesome,” Prado said. “So I’ll be able to sit up on the stage with you? He said, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll be able to sit right beside me.'”
Obviously this was a playful exchange between a pair of former teammates. But it provides further indication of how much Prado was loved in Atlanta. He admits he was bewildered for more than a month after the trade. But showing that same unselfish approach that he has taken to the field on a daily basis, he provided this great response when asked about the trade.
“The thing that makes me feel real good is that you know that you got traded and the [Braves] now look better,” Prado said. “I’m happy because all of my ex-teammates can see that they gave up something, but actually got a better team. That’s what [Braves general manager Frank Wren] was looking for. He made a good move.”
While Wren took great delight in watching Upton and Johnson both hit two-run home runs and finish a triple shy of the cycle in Monday night’s 10-1 win over the D-backs, I’m thinking Arizona general manager Kevin Towers was wishing he and his scouts had never had any conversations with Wren and his scouts back in January.
Upton once again took the high road when given a chance to express the frustrations that built as Towers repeatedly attempted to trade him over the past few years. But when he hit this monstrous home run off Wade Miley immediately after his brother was hit in the left shoulder with a pitch in Monday’s sixth inning, I had visions of him channeling Adam Sandler’s character from The Waterboy.
After I addressed the situational strikeout problem in yesterday’s blog entry, the Braves went out and struck out just six times last night while compiling a season-high 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Now we’ll take on the much greater challenge of attempting to use the written word to remove the hex that has been placed on the second spot of Atlanta’s lineup.
The two hole in the Braves lineup has produced a .148 batting average, .246 on-base percentage and .242 slugging percentage. Despite missing the past three weeks, Jason Heyward has accounted for more than half of the at-bats compiled in this spot. Andrelton Simmons, B.J. Upton, Johnson, Tyler Pastornicky, Ramiro Pena and Dan Uggla have all recorded at least five at-bats in this spot.
Simmons has batted .310 while hitting second, making him the only member of this group to hit over .200 in this role.
When I casually asked Uggla how he was doing on Sunday, he said something like, “I’m great as long as I’m not in that two hole.”
This is the expected response from a guy who has gone 0-for-11 with 10 strikeouts while batting second.
When I passed this message along to manager Fredi Gonzalez yesterday, he laughed and said there is no way he will ever bat Uggla second again this year.
“If he bats second again, I’m betting on the game,” Gonzalez said. “If you see it, there better be an investigation.”